Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
|Featuring:||Jason Statham (Tybalt), Emily Blunt (Juliet), James McAvoy (Gnomeo), Michael Caine (Lord Redbrick), Maggie Smith (Lady Blueberry), Patrick Stewart (Bill Shakespeare), Julie Walters (Miss Montague), Jim Cummings (Featherstone), Stephen Merchant (Paris), Matt Lucas (Benny), Dolly Parton (Dolly), Hulk Hogan (Terrafirmenator), Ashley Jensen (Nanette), Richard Wilson (Mr. Capulet), Ozzy Osbourne (Fawn), Steven Kynman (Football Gnome)|
|Director:||Kelly Asbury—“Beauty and the Beast,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Shrek 2”|
|Producer:||Elton John, Rocket Pictures, Starz Animation, Touchstone Pictures, Baker Bloodworth, David Furnish, Igor Khait, Kara Lord, Steve Hamilton Shaw|
“A little adventure goes a lawn way.”
Anyone who has taken a high-school English class is likely to be acquainted with the love tragedy of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” On the bright side, this G-rated adaptation is very loosely based on the classic and delivers the required happy Disney ending without a double suicide. Though the two lead gnomes share a sweet courtship, it’s all too brief as their rival families take the forefront with their rather violent feud.
For an unexplained reason, two elderly neighbors, Montague and Capulet hate each other. Their verbal chats consist of exchanging insults on their way out to their cars or by shouting accusations over the backyard fence. Though enemies, both share the pride of cultivating beautiful, color-themed gardens: one red and the other blue. Whenever the feuding homeowners leave, their garden gnomes pull a “Toy Story” maneuver and instantly come to life. Instead of being friends, the two groups continue on the feud: a battle between the Reds and the Blues.
Juliet (Emily Blunt) is a Red and an over-sheltered daughter. Seeing a rare, exquisite flower in an abandoned greenhouse, she believes it’s the key to making the Red’s garden the envy of the Blues. Upon sneaking out to pluck the flower, Juliet is spotted by Gnomeo (James McAvoy), an audacious Blue, who curiously begins to follow her. As soon as the two lay eyes on each other, the sparks fly and the flirting begins. Everything is peachy until they find out their rival colors. Like the Shakespearian classic, the feud no long matters to them. Gnomeo and Juliet secretly begin spending time together, befriend a flamingo, and fall in love.
The movie is very brief in its run and clever in certain areas. Though not entirely hilarious, the film has its cute moments and solid number of chuckles. The musical numbers mostly consist of rendition of Elton John songs with rewritten lyrics customized to address the love lives of garden gnomes. The gnomes, themselves, are graphically well designed with cracks and stiff, brittle movements. The best scene is when Gnomeo speaks with a Shakespearian statue about the beauty of tragedy vs. happy endings. Gnomeo and Juliet’s love is proven to be deep with Gnomeo willing to die for his lady love (John 15:13).
However, with that said, this movie should not have been given a G rating. The level of innuendos and violence should have pushed it up to a solid PG rating. The bitter neighbors call each other names (nitwit, witch, hag, idiot, loser, etc). One gnome says “let’s go kick some grass.” Juliet is told that she “looks hot” and has “nice junk in the trunk.” One gnome who consistently uses wrong phrases states that he loves “going commando.” Some female gnomes are shown with very large breasts and low-cut shirts and short shorts.
Most likely aimed for adults, the film has several pop cultural references from previous films. From “Forrest Gump” to “Finding Nemo,” these references were welcomed. However, it seems rather odd that this film would also includes cultural references from R-rated films, as well. “American Beauty” is referenced when a character has a similar fantasy of floating red-rose petals. The infamous thong mankini which Borat wore is the only apparel one gnome wears throughout the entire film. Though he is not shown much, he does briefly turn around at the end of the film, showing his thong and sun-burnt butt cheeks. Upon chatting with one parent after the film’s showing, she told me that there was also a reference to “Brokeback Mountain.” Though I have never seen that film, other film critics have also commented on this reference.
Though the violence is bloodless, the gnomes would often laugh at the thought of revenge, even saying that “payback is gonna be fun.” To get even, Gnomeo sneaks into the Reds’ garden with spray paint and vandalizes some pottery. Upon seeing the damage, Tybalt (Jason Statham) laughs and says that he’s going to cause the Blues “lots and lots of damage” After the Blue’s most cherished garden tree is destroyed by a Red (off screen), they decide to retaliate against the Reds with weed killer. During the climax, Gnomeo and Tybalt begin to fight on a speeding lawn mower. When Gnomeo is nearly pushed off, he warns Tybalt of an upcoming wall. Tybalt is shown flying off, and the camera pans away at the moment of impact. However, his shattered remains are briefly shown. The Reds’ mourning of Tybalt soon turns to anger as they shout “gnome for gnome!” and attempt to kill Gnomeo by throwing rocks at him. They chase him to a street where he’s seemingly run over by a truck.
When believing Gnomeo to be dead, the Blues decide to completely destroy the Reds. They say that this vengeance is “for Gnomeo.” After buying a massive lawn mower, one of the blues is shown laughing as he plows through the Red’s backyard, sending the Reds screaming for cover.
In one scene, Tybalt, corners a Blue, who has a big pointy hat (a thing of beauty for the gnomes). The blue is intimidated and desperately tries to run to the safety of his garden. However, Tybalt manages to cut off the blue’s cherished hat. While the attacked blue gnome sits in shock and slowly touches his damaged head, Tybalt laughs at his victory. Though I do not have children of my own, this scene disturbed me at the thought of the number of impressionable children, sitting in the audience.
I know “Gnomeo and Juliet” is based on Shakespeare’s play, which in all fairness isn’t a walk in the park itself. However, this film sells itself as a children’s movie with the most possibly innocent rating a film could obtain. A child should not watch a movie where gnomes attack each other and laugh. Though the feud ended, this was moment was all too brief. While the movie did garner some laughs, it still doesn’t warrant a recommendation. My advice is to skip it entirely.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.